Couchsurfing Community Travel Guide


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Couchsurfing Community Travel Guide

  1. 1. Have you heard about "Couchsurfing"?<br />
  2. 2. No, that’s not quiteit…<br />
  3. 3. This is…<br />
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  5. 5. It's not only a website, but a global community project, whose mission is as follows:<br />"We envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places we encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to diversity with curiosity, appreciation and respect. The appreciation of diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community."<br />
  6. 6. So how does a Couchsurfer do so? <br /> By opening up our homes & hearts to a diverse group of adventurous and interesting folks from all over the world, and also by traveling and meeting locals who are part of the Couchsurfing community. <br /> How? It's simple...<br />
  7. 7. How doesitwork?<br /> First, a new Couchsurfer goes to the site and completes a profile, listing the accomodation they have available, their interests, and how they would like to share and learn from the global community. Here are some examples…<br />
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  10. 10. How itworks…<br /> When traveling, a Couchsurfer searches the database for local Couchsurfers to meet up with, who will become their potential new friends, guides and hosts. It looks like this…<br />
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  12. 12. Not just free accomodation!<br /> Then, once he or she sees a Host whose home they'd like to stay at, they will send a request, typically 1-2 weeks in advance, which can be accepted or denied. Travelers typically stay 1-3 nights, and often spend an evening or two in the company of the Host and their family/friends, seeing the sights or sharing a meal. The focus is not just free accomodation, but also an exchange – be it of experiences, languages, cultures, recipes, talents, you name it!<br /> To express gratitude, it is customary for the Surfer to leave a small gift (or buy a round of beers, etc.) for the Host, although this is never expected, and commercial acts are forbidden on the site. <br />
  13. 13. Is Couchsurfing safe? <br /> The vast majority of experiences are positive, although from time to time negative experiences have arisen. The couchsurfing project has set up a system in order to better ensure safety. Let me explain...<br />
  14. 14. Feedback<br /> First, people who know each other or have met leave comments on each other's profiles indicating the amount of time they've known each other, their trust level, and any other information. People who have negative references are less likely to be accepted by hosts and are less likely to receive requests. <br />
  15. 15. Name & addressverification<br /> Secondly, one can opt to donate to the Couchsurfing project (at least 20 dollars US) and can have their name and address verified officially via their bank records, which makes them more liable if something happens and thus more trustworthy. (Couchsurfing is a non-profit, with a small collection of full-time global employees who connect virtually as well as a volunteer collective.)<br />
  16. 16. Vouching<br /> Lastly, Couchsurfing has a system of "vouching" - the original core members can vouch for a certain number of trustworthy friends, and once those friends are vouched for three times, they can do the same. Essentially, it's a circle of trust. <br />Here's what all of that looks like virtually...<br />
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  18. 18. Couchsurfing also takes seriously any complaints and will remove users who abuse the system, and they advise travelers to stay smart and have a back-up plan if necessary. The more you contribute to the community, the more vouches you have, and the more positive comments, the more likely you are to be trusted and hosted when you're in a cinch!<br />
  19. 19. A growingphenomenon!<br /> Don't think Couchsurfing is just for backpacking hippies. The community is diverse, and includes all kinds of folks - even families! As the community grows, the international press is even starting to take interest...<br />
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  23. 23. Events<br /> But Couchsurfing isn't just limited to accomodation! The community also organizes local events, meet-ups, quiz nights, language exchanges, pot lucks, birthday parties, hiking excursions, etc. Not only for passing travelers, but for hosts as well! This gives travelers a great opportunity to meet locals and see the best sights, but also gives local hosts a chance to meet, connect, and share experiences. <br />
  24. 24. For example, at the Braderie de Lille, whichis an annual French festival involvingeatingmusselswithfries and drinkingbeer!<br />
  25. 25. Age<br />Couchsurfing is open to anybody, regardless of age, ethnicity, nationality, etc.<br /> In terms of age, Couchsurfers tend to be younger however, with the median age being 28.<br />
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  28. 28. Gender<br />Couchsurfers are both male and female, with males making up a slightmajority. Some people suspect thatthisisbecausewomen living alone are not as comfortablewith the idea of welcomingstrangers. A smallpercentage of Couchsurfing profiles are marked ‘several people’, meaningthatthey are made up of couples, families & roommate situations, whichdoessomewhatboost the percentage of womeninvolved.<br />
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  31. 31. A really global community!<br />Couchsurfers are all over the world! The following map will show you just how strong the global presence is:<br />
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  33. 33. Language<br />Couchsurfers also tend to speak English, though not necessarily as a first language, as English is considered the international language as well as the default language on the site. Couchsurfers also speak a variety of other languages, and is a great way to meet people in order to practice your foreign language skills!<br />
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  36. 36. Where to go?<br /> As an experienced Couchsurfer, I can say that just about any destination in the world can be made interesting through making contacts with other Couchsurfers in the area. Why? Because your Couchsurfing hosts will usually do their best to give you a taste of the culture, show you why their area is worth visiting and what there is to see and do. However, to start with, here are two places I recommend to visit:<br />
  37. 37. 1. PORTLAND! <br />
  38. 38. Why PDX?<br /> Yes, that's right, where you live! Couchsurfing has a strong community in PDX. The main Portland group, true to both the Couchsurfing and PDX spirit, has 2939 members! Your fellow PDX Couchsurfers can help you get started on the site and help you get more involved in the community.<br /> The group can be found by clicking here!<br />
  39. 39. 2. MY HOUSE!<br />
  40. 40. Whymy house?<br /> What kind of a Couchsurfer would I be if I didn't invite you? I live in a large red-brick house in Felleries, France, which has a population of 1000 and is in the North of France near the Belgian border. I have three roommates - one is French (and a fellow couchsurfer), one is American, and one is Danish. You can sleep in our cozy guest bedroom. During the day, you can visit the Museum of Woodworking which is next door and go hiking on the many nature trails only a few minutes away. In the evening we're always going to concerts or having a soirée, where you'll be welcome!<br />
  41. 41. At the Museum of Woodworking in Felleries…<br />
  42. 42. On the nature trails in Felleries…<br />
  43. 43. Soundsgreat! But…what about creeps & weirdos?<br />
  44. 44. Yes, sometimesitdoeshappen…<br /> Although stalking isn’t common, one real problem the Couchsurfing community does have is an issue with (typically) male members using the website as a dating website rather than as a place to make platonic friends and meet fellow travelers. Of course, people have met and formed relationships because of the site, but the general consensus is that this should never be the goal, as this has the potential to make people uncomfortable, which is against the community mission statement! People who have confused the site with a dating website are left with negative comments and they are not well received by the rest of the Couchsurfing Community, and sometimes they are removed from the site. <br />
  45. 45. How to avoidthisproblem…<br /> After receiving many annoying requests for dates, I personally have taken steps to avoid this problem. I have chosen to have a picture of some scenery as my "profile" picture, in order to avoid attracting these kinds of people. I have also opted to include the following statement in my profile:<br />
  46. 46. "One thing I'd like to make clear, and it's lame that I've got to, but after a few awkward encounters and emails during the two years I've been a Couchsurfer I feel as though I must...I do not use Couchsurfing for dating, and neither should you. That's not the CS spirit! If I send you a CS request, it's not because I'm "into" you or want something from you, but because among the Couchsurfers in your area I think you're an interesting person and I'd like to meet you in order to share our cultures, opinions and experiences and to have a good time...nothing more. If you send me a CS request or email, I hope it's for the same reason. Also, I pay attention to references, after all that's what they're there for! Otherwise I adore Couchsurfing and I've had plenty of wonderful experiences because of the site, and I hope it continues like that!“<br /> Since then, these kinds of contacts have ceased.<br />
  47. 47. One thing to remember…<br /> 99.986 percent of all member experiences are rated by the members themselves as POSITIVE experiences! <br /> Click here to see testimonials.<br />
  48. 48. The future…<br />How do I envision the future of the Couchsurfing community? I envision it expanding, with the staff and volunteers coming up with creative solutions to the community's problems and ways of inspiring even more connection & community experiences, which I hope will have a global impact and make the world a better place because of it.<br />
  49. 49. The future…<br />Couchsurfinghad 17 memberssign up in January of 2004. Now, in January of 2011, the site has already17,349 new members within the month alone, and the number keeps on rising. <br /> Will you be next?<br />
  50. 50. For more information…<br />Go to<br />and check out the CouchsurfingWikiGuide<br />